New York by Rail - Legendary Erie Canal
Experience this rail and drive exploration of one of America's greatest man-made waterways: The Erie Canal
Discover America's most famous and influential waterway. Journey back in time as we take you to one of the world’s most iconic waterways—the Erie Canal. A National Historic Landmark and once considered the 8th wonder of the world, this legendary waterway is still active today and more beautiful than ever. Join us for an exploration of a lifetime!
You will experience the splendor, beauty and excitement of this wondrous canal as you visit charming canal communities, operate a canal lock, explore tug boats and “lock through” on a cruise boat. Spend time with locals who have unique stories to tell, view great works of architecture and picturesque landscapes that have remained intact for 100s of years.
This waterway was designated a new kind of National Park in 2000 by the Department of Interior. So, don’t forget to bring your PASSPORT TO YOUR NATIONAL PARKS© book—there will be many stamps to collect along the way. Children will be given a child’s National Park Passport and an activity book. If they complete the book, they will receive a small gift, after the tour, for their efforts.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Amtrak Coach round trip from Penn Station to Albany, NY. Boarding train from other locations may be an additional cost.
- Enterprise Rental Economy Car-insurance and taxes included in rental. Option for car upgrade is available. Car must be returned to original drop off location.
- Accommodation at a 3-4 star Hilton/Marriot or comparable lodging.
- All breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 Dinners
- Cruise “locking through” locks along the Champlain Canal, present Erie Canal and historic Erie Canal.
- National Historical Parks and distinctive canal museums
- Local Brew Tastings
- Access to canal experts
- Bike Ride along the historic Erie Canal towpath
- Brew tastings
- Attraction fees including tax.
- Passport to your National Parks book (“P”for Passport Site)
- Canal inspired gift
(Price specific vouchers will be included for lunches and dinners-tips are not included)
Individuals will be provided with a full itinerary that includes historical background information on each site, contact information and driving directions. Canal gift and passport book will be mailed to you prior to your depart.
Day 1 - Depart New York City
Board Amtrak’s Maple Leaf at New York's Penn Station this morning. Enjoy the amenities of Coach Class, or choose to upgrade to Business Class at an additional cost. Sit back and relax, watch movie or listen to music on your cell phone, iPad or laptop through the free wifi available on Amtrak. Or, enjoy the scenic and vistas of the historic Hudson Valley just outside your window. Make sure you sit on the right side of the train going north to get the best views possible!
You will arrive late morning at the at the Albany Rensselaer Train Station. Pick your Enterprise car rental in the lobby of the station. Your first stop is Cohoes Falls, second most powerful falls east of Rocky Mountains, Colorado. Get close to the falls by walking a flight of stairs down to a hiking trail. Bring your camera because you may see an American Bald Eagle! Next stop is lunch at McGreivy’s restaurant. This canal themed bistro is a local favorite. We will provide you with a $20 meal voucher for you to enjoy one of the many delicious menu options prepared by Chef, Art Riley, a Culinary Institute of America graduate.
After lunch, we will call ahead for you so you can meet one of the New York State Canal Corporation’s lock tenders who will give you a tour of The Waterford flight of five locks which spans 1.5 miles (P at visitor center). They are the greatest vertical distance of locks in the world- beginning at 15.2 feet and ending at 180 feet. All this to navigate around Cohoes Falls. The lock tender may even allow you to operate one of the locks-just ask! You then can either walk along the canal towpath or drive to the Waterford Harbor Museum to learn about the history of the canal and its influence on the local town of Waterford, NY.
Waterford is located at the confluence of the Champlain and Erie Canal. Its harbor is the terminus to both canal systems. For this reason, take a walk down to its harbor and meet the boaters, from all over the world, who moor their boats for an overnight or a few days. While at the harbor, you can rent a kayak on your own and paddle the canal and lock-through one of the locks. This is a life’s bucket list opportunity you can’t miss!
After a long day, you will want to check into your hotel and rest before dinner. If you don’t want to drive your car to your evening meal, we will have the hotel’s transport take you anywhere within the City of Albany. Dinner will be on your own. We will make suggestions to some of the best places to eat.
Day 2 - Schuylerville & Saratoga Springs
You will eat breakfast at the hotel and depart to the quaint and up-and-coming town of Schuylerville New York. This is one of the most historic canal towns along the New York State Canal System. Stories of the Revolutionary War, Canal and Underground Railroad are prevalent in this small American town. Your first stop will be at the Saratoga National Historical Park’s Visitor Center (P). Before you explore the center, make sure you walk outside the back of the building and take a photo of the Green Mountains of Vermont. This breathtaking view is protected by the National Park Service and local environmental groups. It is the same view as one would have seen in the 1600s. Saratoga Park is the most significant historic site for Revolutionary War history. The Battle at Saratoga is considered the turning point of the war. It is argued that during the Battles at Saratoga, if Benedict Arnold died here, he would have been considered one of our most famed war heroes. Drive the tour road and visit the interpretive stops along the way or hike the Park’s miles of walking trails. Then travel to General Phillip Schuyler’s House. Learn how this Revolutionary War hero, entrepreneur and slave owner was the original father of the American Canal System. The Schuyler’s are one of the original Dutch families who immigrated to America and were one of the wealthiest and most influential people of the 1600s. General Schuyler’s daughter Elizabeth married the famous Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington.
Enjoy lunch at Over the Moon Café’ where the owner Erika will add her special touch and create you a delicious home cooked meal-a $15 lunch voucher will be provided. Then off on a boat cruise with Mohawk Maiden cruises for a leisurely ride through canal locks on the Champlain Canal. Stop along the way to Saratoga Apple for a sample of their hard cider. Children will get a tasting of their regular cider. Dinner on your own at a suggested restaurant in Saratoga Springs, then return to your hotel in Albany for the evening.
Day 3 - Schoharie State Historic Park & Utica
After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will travel to Schoharie State Historic Site(P) which is an Erie Canal National Historic Landmark. This site includes the ruins of the Erie Canal aqueduct over Schoharie Creek, and a 3.5-mile long part of the original Erie Canal. Then on to Little Falls’ Canal Place which is located directly on the canal waterfront. The shops include locally made crafts and antiques. Lunch on your own. Don’t forget to photograph the escarpment along the water’s edge! Little Falls was the site of a Currier and Ives inspired Erie Canal painting. After your time in Little falls, move on to Gems Along the Mohawk, a visitor center and store selling locally made goods. While at Gems, you will take a cruise on the Erie Canal and learn its historic significance. Travel to Utica and check into your hotel. Utica was once an enclave for Italian immigrants. Today, the Italian American culture can be experienced firsthand at one of their many famed authentic and award-winning restaurants . Don’t forget to try the Utica Greens or Utica Riggies! You will receive a $30 dinner voucher.
Day 4 - Chittenango Canal Boat Museum & Erie Canal Museum
After breakfast at your hotel, drive to Chittenango Canal Boat Museum—the last remaining canal boat building structure along the Erie Canal (P). Take a leisurely bike ride along the original towpath and experience the flora and fauna on the scenic trail. After your ride, travel to Erie Canal Brewery for a tasting of locally made brew inspired by the citrus, aroma and flavor of hops grown in the region. Next, stop by the Erie Canal Museum (P) in Syracuse which is housed in the last remaining weigh lock building in the country! This museum provides interactive exhibits for people of all ages. Check into your hotel, lunch on your own. Evening will include shopping at Destiny Mall which is the 6th largest Mall in America where there will be many options for Dinner and adventures for the family-we will provide a $30 voucher that you may use for dinner, shopping or attractions.
Day 5 - Your Trip Concludeds
After breakfast, depart for the Erie Canal State Park and Sims Store (PS), where you will spend the morning exploring scenic wooded paths and walkways and even hop on an authentic boat ride-pulled by mules! Don’t forget to visit the Sims Store Museum! The museum combines the old-fashioned charm of a canal store complete with exhibits, early photos, maps of the canal with models of locks, aqueducts and canal boats. This is the perfect setting to end your tour.
Return to Albany to drop off vehicle and take train back to New York. Car must be returned before 5PM at the Albany-Rennselaer train station.
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